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Smart summer food choices

Keep your perfect bikini body by making the right choices.

You may think you’re eating light meals in the warmer months, but a lot of our summer favourites can be surprisingly high in sugar, fat and calories. Follow these eating tips to help you get through summer without worrying about your waistline.

At the BBQ
Sausages and ready-made burgers are high in saturated fat, salt and preservatives, so unless you’re going for posh organic or homemade versions, avoid them. Cut off any bits that have been burnt to black – there’s evidence burning meat can create carcinogenic compounds. A serving of buttery garlic bread can contain 340 calories and 16g of fat, while one serving of mayonnaise-laden coleslaw can contain as much as 17g of fat. Snacking on sour cream dips and crisps can add over 500 calories to your meal in a flash.

To avoid processed products, go for fresh meat, such as lean steak and chops, marinated chicken, prawns and fresh fish, such as salmon cooked in foil parcels or monkfish cubed and cooked on skewers or sprigs of rosemary. Marinate tofu and put it on skewers with vegetables for a vegetarian treat and bake Vivaldi potatoes in foil on the coals, as they still taste creamy without butter. Choose wholemeal pitta breads rather than highly processed white burger buns and fill your plate with leafy green salad. Instead of crisp snacks, go for vegetable crudités with houmous or salsa. Portobello mushrooms with garlic and corn on the cob are gorgeous on the BBQ, but leave off the butter. Toss asparagus in a little olive oil and grill for two to three minutes. Skewer cubes of fruit, such as pineapple and mango, drizzle with passion fruit juice and grill, or wrap bananas in their skins in foil and leave on the coals for about10 minutes for a dessert treat.

At the beach
Deep-fried fish and chips are super high in saturated fat; a large portion of battered cod and chips can contain around 1,300 calories and a shocking 77g of fat! Soft and juice drinks, squash and cordial may seem refreshing, but the high sugar content is bad for teeth and your body fat levels, while often being devoid of nutrients; one cola contains around seven teaspoons of sugar. Try to forgo chocolate-covered ice creams for fruity ice lollies.

Pack fruit, crackers and tzatziki or houmous with cherry tomatoes and vegetable crudités or sandwiches for a picnic on the beach. Use bottles of frozen water to cool your food. If you’re tempted by beachside cafes, opt for grilled fish or seafood with a hearty green side salad and hold the fries. Instead of ice cream, a Calippo ice lolly is refreshing and has only 100 calories, and hydrate with water – try sparkling water with a sliver of real lime.

On holiday
Hotel buffets are so tempting, but watch out! Breakfast pastries are made with butter and pack in around 370 calories and 20g of fat – almost a third of your daily guideline allowance. Avoid fried and fatty hash browns and bacon that will weigh you down. Don’t go back for seconds – get a taste of everything you fancy in your first plate. Go easy on processed meats such as salami and chorizo, all deep-fried foods and limit cheese to one small serving a day. Avoid cheesecake and creamy desserts that can be high in saturated fat. By the pool, steer clear of cocktails made with cream or cream liqueurs and syrupy fruit purées – a typical piña colada has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger, at around 260! Alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels too, making you feel extra peckish.

At the breakfast buffet, opt for fibre-rich muesli and fruit salad or a poached egg on wholemeal toast with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms (but without the sausage and bacon) and you’ll stay fuller for longer. At lunch and dinner, stock up on leafy salad or eat a non-creamy soup first to take the edge off your appetite. In Spain, good choices are paella and rice dishes, grilled or baked fish and shellfish; in Greece, tuck into mezze and Greek salad; in Italy have vegetable sauces on your pasta and tuck into bean dishes and risottos. In France, choose seafood stew Bouillabaisse, moules marinière and ratatouille. For a pre-dinner drink, try gin, vodka or another spirit on the rocks with soda water and real lime or lemon juice, or one flute of champagne.

H&F Tip!
Marinate meat using fresh herbs, citrus juices and spices before cooking on the BBQ to reduce the levels of potentially harmful chemicals caused by grilling meat.

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